Shikoku is the smallest of Japan’s four main islands. Enjoy everything the island has to offer: from Mount Ishizuchi to the coast Ashizuri, plenty of sparkling nature to be found. In addition, Shikoku is known for its pilgrimage, where you travel 1,200 kilometers in 1-2 months to visit 88 temples. Also, Shikoku has always been fairly isolated from the rest of the world, preserving much of Japan’s ancient nature and architecture.
When you read this, you might want to visit Shikoku, too. Instead of booking an expensive plane vacation, you can also immerse yourself and a fellow player in Tokaido Duo. This board game is a two-player variant of the well-known game Tokaido and is set on Shikoku. Take the roles of a pilgrim, a painter and a merchant and try to score the most points by visiting as many temples and gardens as possible, capturing nature on canvas and trading between mountain and coastal villages. Is Tokaido Duo worth the pilgrimage to the game store?
Okay, let me be very clear about this: yes it is! Tokaido Duo is a fantastically streamlined, compact, thematic and smooth board game with so much more variety than you might suspect. Okay, this was my review – buy this game!
If you do allow me to elaborate a little more, please read on. Tokaido Duo’s compact game board shows three tracks: these are the routes the three characters can travel. Merchants travel between the lines of mountain villages and coastal towns. Pilgrims travel around the clock past temples, gardens, hot springs and other stopovers. Painters move into the areas between the tracks of traders and pilgrims. The three dice are used to determine how many steps each character must cover. Players take turns choosing dice.
- Traders buy goods in mountain villages and sell those goods for a certain amount in coastal towns. Every ten coins they earn yields a gold coin, which earns victory points. The more gold coins, the more victory points.
- Pilgrims visit gardens and temples. The amount of gardens visited times the amount of temples visited constitutes the number of victory points.
- Painters move between areas to make some paintings for nearby player pieces. They then go to the area they painted to donate the painting to someone. The amount of paintings donated determines the amount of victory points.
If someone on the track of the trader, pilgrim or painter has unlocked all the victory points, the game ends immediately and the players add up the three scores. The one with the highest score wins!
Furthermore, pilgrims can visit hot springs to relax and unlock a wild, which allows an extra action to be performed once. In addition, players in coastal towns can unlock bonus modifiers, which upgrade actions of the merchant, pilgrim or painter for that player. For example, a pilgrim may take one step more or less, or the trader earns an extra coin when selling. But beware: the other player can take away the hot springs joker or bonus modifier if they unlock it. Each game has three bonus modifiers, but in advance you can choose which 3 of the 6 effects to use in the game. As a result, the game has a lot of variety.
Tokaido Duo has a lot of variety in gameplay! You can put your accent on the pilgrim, painter and/or merchant, and with the randomness of bonuses, endless fun is guaranteed. As far as I’m concerned, Tokaido Duo is the gift for people who like two-player games and want guaranteed fun for 30 minutes to an hour. THE purchase for Christmas, if you ask me. Tokaido Duo still comes to my table often. Saves another 2,000 euros in airfare.